On Twitter I see people say things like

her guilt is spiraling


spiraling into madness

What does this mean?

  • 1
    It's metaphorical. Flushing water down the toilet. Going from mostly stable to a much lower turbulent space.
    – Mitch
    Aug 6, 2018 at 17:56

2 Answers 2


When falling from the sky birds, or aircraft, that are no longer aerodynamically balanced for whatever reason, go into a "death spiral". I believe the saying "spiraling out of of control" comes from this motion, from which many other similar uses are derived.


spiralling OED adj. and n.

As in:

1969 H. Perkin Key Profession iv. 138 The post-war situation of [upward] spiralling prices and incomes.

I give an example. I will allow you to look up the definitions of spirla.

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